Monday, November 29, 1999

Oil sector needs to improve oil spill response - BP

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BP Plc chief executive Tony Hayward will tell lawmakers on Thursday that it was too early to understand what caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history and that it points to the need for improvements across the entire industry."This is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures," Hayward said in testimony set to be delivered in Congress. "A number of companies are involved, including BP, and it is simply too early to understand the cause."Hayward, who is expected to get a grilling from lawmakers at the House of Representatives hearing, said the oil and gas industry needs to be better prepared for deep-water accidents."It is clear that our industry needs to significantly improve our ability to quickly address deep-sea accidents of this type and magnitude," Hayward said in the testimony prepared for a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.Hayward's comments follow a hearing this week where executives of other major oil companies attempted to distance themselves from the BP disaster.It will be Hayward's first appearance at a congressional hearing since the April 20 explosion on an offshore rig leased by BP killed 11 workers and ruptured a deep-sea well.BP has faced intense criticism from lawmakers for its response to the oil leak. Hayward has personally been attacked for making comments minimizing the spill and saying he wanted his life back."To be sure, neither I nor the company is perfect," Hayward said. "But we are unwavering in our commitment to fulfill all our responsibilities.""My sadness has only grown as the disaster continues," he said.BP has said it will pay all legitimate damages related to spill and on Wednesday agreed to set up a $20 billion claims fund.So far, Hayward said BP has paid out more than $90 million on more than 56,000 claims that have been submitted. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Xavier Briand)
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